Cletus glared up at the young man bouncing at his heels. “You sure are chipper this morning,” he growled.
Dominic beamed back. “I’m excited to begin work.”
Cletus’s scowl deepened. “You know what kind of work we do here, right?” he asked, gesturing with his crippled hand at another worker, struggling to hoist a large block of stone.
“I’ve cut stone before,” Dominic replied with all the earnestness of a young man wishing to be taken seriously. Cletus’s face darkened as he recalled the days when he had stood as tall and confident as this boy. Dominic was oblivious, staring in awe at the rocky slope. “I’ve just never had the privilege of cutting sacred marble.”
“Sacred,” Cletus grunted. “Right . . .”
The younger man gasped. “You resent the honor we’ve been given?”
It was too much for Cletus. “You think I don’t know why we’re here, boy? I’ve been working in this pit since I was half your age. Stones don’t care if they’re sacred or profane. They’ll crush you just the same.”
“It would be a blessing to give my strength in offering to the gods.”
Back twisted, hand maimed, arms scared, Cletus replied, “May their blessings never reach you.”
* * *
Story by Gregory M. Fox